RICHMOND captain Trent Cotchin has sparked a sensational second-half comeback, the Tigers coming from 40 points down at half-time to claim an eight-point victory over Hawthorn at University of Tasmania Stadium on Saturday night.
Cotchin booted two goals with less than five minutes left in the contest, the second – a shot on the run from 50m out of a centre clearance – providing a great example of how the 6-6-6 starting positions could impact in the dying stages of matches in 2019.
The Tigers kicked 12 goals after half time to flip the game on its head, seizing a 14.11 (95) to 13.9 (87) victory in Launceston.
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Cotchin was outstanding when the game was up for grabs in the last five minutes, gathering 10 touches and kicking two goals in the final term to lead his team to an exciting JLT Community Series win.
That result looked extremely unlikely at the major break with Richmond's lack of pressure around the contest and its uncharacteristic errors by foot in the first half nowhere near resembling its trademark brand of football.
The Hawks were far and away the better unit in the first half, with Jaeger O'Meara (35 touches) doing as he pleased, as young tyro James Worpel (24 disposals, 13 contested, nine clearances and eight inside 50s) again stepped up in the absence of the injured Tom Mitchell.
Jarryd Roughead played with energy and looked unencumbered in attack as he snagged five goals, while Luke Breust, despite being wayward in front of goal, looked sharp in his first hit-out for the pre-season.
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The Hawks, though, could not slow Richmond's momentum as it slammed on seven goals to two in the third term to cut the margin to 10 points late in the quarter and give itself a chance at completing the comeback.
Another concern for Hawthorn was the gut punch delivered by Liam Shiels on Jack Graham in the third term which could come under scrutiny from the Match Review Officer.
The Tigers lifted their intent and want for the contest in the second half with Dustin Martin (30 disposals and 10 clearances) and Jack Higgins (19 disposals, 10 contested, three goals) vital to the comeback.
Jack Riewoldt was another key beneficiary with the forward booting three goals and taking three marks inside 50 for the contest, while Dan Butler was another Tiger who worked into the game.
What we learned
Hawthorn: The influence of Worpel and fellow youngster James Cousins will be pivotal in the Hawks covering injured midfielder Tom Mitchell this season. Worpel is a prime breakout candidate, but Cousins (21 disposals and five clearances) was also impressive with his poise and smarts in traffic.
Richmond: Richmond's game style is still predicated on ferocious forward pressure. The Hawks were all over the Tigers early in the contest, but Damien Hardwick's side lifted its rating in the second half. It went back to basics and started winning contested ball and putting heat on the opposition. When the Tigers do that consistently, they are one of the best teams in the AFL.
Hawthorn: With Grant Birchall still injured, former Sun Jack Scrimshaw was a solid performer. Scrimshaw had 12 disposals in the first term and four marks, before fading out of the game. Mitch Lewis also looked promising, especially his attack on the footy in the air.
Richmond: Noah Balta found the going a bit tougher in his second JLT outing after starring against Melbourne last weekend. The athletic big man – in contention for round one – kicked a goal but had just seven disposals. Jack Ross also had seven touches, while ex-Saint Maverick Weller came on in the second half and had an impact with two goals.
James Worpel (MID/FWD, $480,000) looks like a legitimate breakout candidate and his 92 points against the Tigers was just another sign that he is approaching that status. As a dual position player, Worpel will get plenty of opportunities through the midfield with Mitchell out for the year.
Richmond opens the 2019 AFL premiership season with its now annual Thursday night clash with Carlton on March 21. The Hawks will travel to Adelaide Oval to face Adelaide, which went unbeaten through the JLT Community Series, on March 23.
HAWTHORN 5.0 9.5 11.7 13.9 (87)
RICHMOND 2.3 2.7 9.8 14.11 (95)
Hawthorn: Roughead 5, Breust, Henderson, Scrimshaw, Burgoyne, Shiels, O'Meara, Worpel, Smith
Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Higgins 3, Cotchin 2, Weller 2, Butler 2, Nankervis, Balta
Hawthorn: O'Meara, Roughead, Worpel, Shiels, Breust, Cousins
Richmond: Cotchin, Martin, Higgins, Prestia, Graham
Hawthorn: Brand (right ankle)
Richmond: Grimes (corked glute)
Umpires: Fleer, Donlon, Whetton
Official crowd: 6982 at University of Tasmania Stadium (Launceston)